March 23, 2006

One dead in fire on Princess ship in Caribbean

MIAMI (Reuters) - One passenger died and 11 were hurt when
fire broke out on the passenger decks of a Princess Cruises
ship on Thursday as the vessel sailed from the Cayman Islands
to Jamaica, the cruise line said.

The blaze aboard the Star Princess, which was carrying
2,690 passengers and 1,123 crew, was extinguished but there was
smoke throughout the affected area, Princess Cruises, owned by
Carnival Corp., said in a statement.

"We deeply regret having to confirm that there has been one
passenger fatality following a cardiac arrest, two passengers
with significant smoke inhalation injuries and nine passengers
with minor complications resulting from smoke inhalation," the
statement said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said 100 cabins from decks nine
through 12 were affected by the fire, which broke out at 3:10
a.m. as the ship was heading from Grand Cayman Island to
Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The ship arrived in Montego Bay later in the morning and
the Coast Guard dispatched investigators to determine the cause
of the fire.

The ship sailed from Fort Lauderdale on March 19 on a
weeklong Caribbean cruise.

The 109,000-ton Star Princess cost more than $430 million
to build. It is registered in Bermuda and sailed its maiden
voyage in 2002.

Carnival Corp. on Thursday reported a 19 percent drop in
first-quarter earnings. Its stock fell about 5 percent in
mid-morning trading.